— Dodge Dart manual transmission problems which caused a class action lawsuit will continue to be debated in court for Dart owners in California who claim the clutch pedals fall to the floors.
Plaintiff Carlos Victorino filed the Dodge Dart class action lawsuit which included another plaintiff who was later dismissed following a settlement with Fiat Chrysler (FCA). Plaintiff Victorino alleges the clutch pedals fail and fall to the floorboards where they stay.
The lawsuit originally included 2013-2015 Dodge Darts nationwide, but the current version includes vehicles in California only. The Darts must be equipped with Fiat C635 manual transmissions built on or before November 12, 2014.
The plaintiff alleges defects were present when the cars were first sold, defects that prevent drivers from shifting gears of the manual transmissions.
Chrysler did issue an extended warranty due to contaminated hydraulic fluid because the clutch reservoir hoses fell apart. The bulletin advised technicians to replace the hydraulic clutch master cylinders and reservoir hoses for 2013-2015 Dodge Darts.
But the lawsuit alleges replacing the clutch doesn't fix the problem because contaminated hydraulic fluid will ruin the new clutch.
In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Chrysler denied there are widespread clutch problems with the manual transmissions and investigations determined only 16% of the cars may be affected.
The judge denied to certify the lawsuit as a class action in June 2018 based on a separate lawsuit titled Nguyen v. Nissan. But in July 2019, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of class certification in Nguyen and remanded the case to the lower court.
Relying on the Ninth Circuit's reasoning in Nguyen, in October 2019 the judge granted the plaintiff's renewed motion for class certification.
"The class is defined as, all persons who purchased or leased in California, from an authorized dealership, a new Class Vehicle primarily for personal, family or household purposes."
In return, Chrysler filed a motion to decertify the class because of the numerous issues experienced by each Dart owner that will need to be tried in front of a jury.
FCA also argues there is no way to know which Dodge Darts were purchased in California "primarily for personal, family, or household purposes."
"Specifically, FCA points out that VINs provided by FCA only identify when and whether the vehicle was purchased at a dealership in California but do not show whether the vehicle was purchased primarily for personal, family or household purposes."
According to the judge, the California class action will continue based on, "[a]ll persons who purchased or leased in California, from an authorized dealership, a new Class Vehicle primarily for personal, family or household purposes."
The judge ruled Dodge Dart owners who purchased the cars for business purposes won't file a claim, but Chrysler will still be "given the opportunity during the claims administration process to challenge any claims and the claims administrator can devise a procedure to ensure that those claimants purchased the Class Vehicles for personal, family, or household purposes."
The judge also found that contrary to what FCA argues, identifying class members won't result in separate trials to determine if an owner purchased the car "primarily for personal, family or household purposes."
The Dodge Dart transmission lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California - Victorino, et al., v. FCA US LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by Capstone Law APC.
CarComplaints.com has owner-reported complaints about the cars.